Digital Punishment

Privacy, Stigma, and the Harms of Data-Driven Criminal Justice

Digital Punishment (2020, Oxford University Press, Incorporated)

256 pages

English language

Published March 16, 2020 by Oxford University Press, Incorporated.


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The proliferation of data-driven criminal justice operations creates millions of criminal records each year in the United States. Documenting everything from a police stop to a prison sentence, these records take on a digital life of their own as they are collected by law enforcement and courts, posted on government websites, re-posted on social media, online news and mugshot galleries, and bought and sold by data brokers. The result is "digital punishment," where mere suspicion or a brush with the law can have lasting consequences.

In Digital Punishment, Sarah Esther Lageson unpacks criminal recordkeeping in the digital age, as busy and overburdened criminal justice agencies turned to technological solutions offered by IT companies over the last two decades. These operations produce a mountain of data, including the names, photographs, and home addresses of people arrested or charged with a crime, transforming millions of paper records into a digital commodity. …